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Samsung Slammed Over Alleged Child Labor in China

Samsung Slammed Over Alleged Child Labor in China

Today in international tech news: A report slams a Samsung assembler in China for exploiting workers. Also, Facebook launches a real-money gambling app in the UK -- and only the UK; and a leaked memo shows the Motion Pictures Association of America's coordinated effort to stir support for the extradition of a 24-year-old Brit who launched a streaming site.

By David Vranicar
08/08/12 9:07 AM PT

HEG Electronics, a Chinese company that assembles devices for Samsung Electronics, has been accused of hiring children and forcing employees to work excessive hours, according to China Labor Watch.

The China Labor Watch report alleges that seven children under the age of 16 were found to be working at the HEG factory, which makes Samsung phones and DVD players. The child workers were reportedly only paid 70 percent as much as adult workers.

The report also said that HEG employees working the 11-hour night shift were only granted 40 minutes of break time.

Samsung will send a group of inspectors to the plant, according to Bloomberg.

China Labor Watch was integral in publicizing the harsh labor conditions at Foxconn, the Apple supplier that has been the focus of much-publicized labor issues.

Facebook Gambling App Launches in UK

For the first time, Facebook has launched a gambling app that uses real money, according to the BBC.

The app, "Bingo Friendzy," was developed by a London-based online gambling operator Gamesys and is only available in the UK. Facebook said that the decision to launch in the UK -- and only the UK -- was the result of its "mature and well-regulated gambling market." BBC says that the legal intricacies of online gambling in the U.S. are far more complicated, so don't expect such an app to launch stateside anytime soon.

A Facebook spokeswoman is quoted saying that Bingo Friendzy was developed independently and then brought to Facebook. In other words, it wasn't a joint venture.

Users must be at least 18 years old to play for cash.

Mother Irked at Hollywood Lobbying

A leaked memo that revealed lobbying efforts by Hollywood studios has irked the mother of Richard O'Dwyer, who is facing extradition to the U.S. on copyright infringement charges, according to The Guardian.

O'Dwyer, from the UK, launched the website TVShack.net, which acted as a sort of search engine for tracking down pirated streams of TV shows and movies. The site was one of the first and most successful streaming hotbeds, and while it didn't host the content itself, it nonetheless became a focal point of U.S. authorities -- and, according the leaked document, a focal point of Hollywood.

The document details how the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents six of the top U.S. film studios, urged studio publicists to vocally support the extradition of O'Dwyer, who is 24 years old (and 22 when the site was seized by U.S. authorities in 2010).

The memo, first leaked by Torrent Freak, also shows that the MPAA urged studios to recruit "surrogates" to stir support for the extradition.

This has outraged O'Dwyer's mother, Julia, who dubbed the leaked memo "unnecessarily vindictive," according to The Guardian. She added that her son was being put on trail by the MPAA.

If extradited and convicted, O'Dwyer faces up to 10 years in U.S. prison. U.S. authorities claim that O'Dwyer made about US$230,000 in advertising revenue before TVShack was seized.

In June, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales launched a petition on behalf of O'Dwyer.

Demonoid Down, Possible Out

Demonoid, a Ukraine-based BitTorrent site, has been taken offline by authorities and its return is uncertain, according to PCWorld.

Demonoid, which was taken down by Ukrainian authorities at the end of July, is (or was) one of the Web's top spots for file-sharing. It was, according to analytics company Alexa, the 950th most visited website in the world and No. 387 in the U.S., based on recent traffic stats.

In 2010, Demonoid changed its URL from demonoid.com to demonoid.me so as to avoid being taken down by U.S. authorities, according to PC World.

The site's operators now face criminal charges in Mexico, according to PC World.

Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here. You can email him at david.vranicar@newsroom.ectnews.com.

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